Gerrard calls on young guns to "launch careers"

England skipper Steven Gerrard is convinced Tuesday night's crucial World Cup qualifier in Ukraine could launch some young careers.

Steven Gerrard, England

And his belief stems from the fact that his own career was boosted in the same way on the back of that staggering 5-1 win in Germany.

Gerrard was winning his sixth cap on that famous night in Munich 12 years ago when Sven-Goran Eriksson's side romped to victory.

That is four fewer than the number Jack Wilshere will reach in Kiev, two less than Kyle Walker and twice as many as Rickie Lambert.

But with a mighty stride towards qualification for Brazil 2014 the prize for victory, Gerrard knows the effect might be just the same.

"For me, Germany away was maybe similar to the position those lads are in now," said Gerrard.

"I was a young age with little experience, and we were playing away from home in a very important qualifier.

"I managed to get a goal and play well that night. It certainly propelled me on at international level.

"Tomorrow is a fantastic opportunity for the new players. These are the games that get a lot of attention and if you perform well individually you get an awful lot of credit."

Gerrard knows from experience the late night flight back to England will be far different if he has won, compared to the sombre atmosphere that will hang over it if the result does not go as planned.

"It is a great feeling (getting a result away from home)," he said. "It is a feeling of satisfaction.

"A win tomorrow will be great because then we will know we are in the driving seat. We will still have two tough games left but they are in front of our own fans."

England's first task on Tuesday is to quieten an anticipated 70,000 crowd, all but a very tiny minority of whom will demand a Ukraine triumph.

As someone who has flourished in the most hostile of environments, it is not a situation Gerrard is concerned about but he knows the task in front of his team-mates.

"If you let the crowd make a difference they will," he said.

"If you start sloppily and don't focus, don't concentrate, make mistakes and play into their hands, of course the crowd is going to get up and make a lot of noise. Then it becomes even more difficult.

"But if you can be solid, make very few mistakes and try to silence them it has the reverse effect.

"Then they will start getting on Ukraine's backs and there will be even more pressure on them."

Having watched tapes of Ukraine's recent displays and, from his own memory bank, England's 1-0 win over the host nation at Euro 2012, Gerrard realises that opening half hour will be crucial as it is that period when he expects England's opponents to be at their strongest.

"Having watched quite a bit of Ukraine and played against them a couple of times, I know they won't change," he said.

"They put a lot of energy into the first half hour. They press high. I am sure it will be the same tomorrow.

"It is so important we defend well in the early stages because the longer this game goes on, the better chance we have got of getting the win."

That doesn't mean England can afford to ease off, even if they carry out Gerrard's demand to perfection.

As was the case in Montenegro last March, matches can quickly become very troublesome if an opponent starts gaining momentum.

And on that night in Podgorica, England were pretty happy to escape with a point.

"I wouldn't say it fell apart but the result slipped away from us," said Gerrard.

"At the end of this group, if we were to finish top, we would look back at the Montenegro result as a big point.

"It was a very difficult away game in a hostile atmosphere and the lads did really well. But it was disappointing we didn't build on the first-half performance.

"If we start well again tomorrow it will be important we maintain it for the full 90."



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